The Music Trail in Leipzig
A Half Marathon in Dresden is not enough to travel to Germany. Dresden has raised from the ashes of February 1945 and is rebuilt splendidly. We took a flight from Denmark to Berlin and continued by train to Leipzig for a few days before coming to Dresden.
Leipzig is another old city from former East Germany and only about one hour’s train trip from each other. Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann have had their home in Leipzig. Leipzig doesn’t seem to have been as bombed as Dresden but during the many years of communist supremacy the many historical buildings have suffered and only after the fall of the iron curtain renovating has taken place. We could see massive progress from eight years ago. If you take a tram out of the city centre, abandoned factories and apartment buildings are waiting to be demolished.
Pictures from the streets of Leipzig
My husband and I had been to both cities once before in 2008. I always like to come back to places to see new things or the same things again. We have experienced that the people we met were very kind. Very few speak English, so I always regret that I had to boycott my German lessons at school. I really wish I could get in contact more than we could. At the Robert and Clara Schumann Museum in Leipzig we “talked” with the museum’s guide who somehow told us that she could speak Russian as they were forced to learn that during her school days during the Soviet occupation. We got the impression that she would have liked to talk with us as much as we would have wanted to hear about her life. (Robert Schumann 1810-1856)
Pictures from the Music Trail in Leipzig
The historical Thomas church in Leipzig is the place where J.S.Bach worked for many years. He had a huge responsibility to compose many works for the church year and to teach the boys in the church choir as well as their instrumental education. Besides that, he had a considerable amount of children many of whom became famous musicians and composers. The Bach family tree was full of musicians. The boys’ choir is still existing.
The museum was closed for rebuilding last time we were in Leipzig so visiting now this time was a must. The museum was situated opposite the Thomas Church in a building that belonged to friends of the Bach family. Everything about the life of the composer is shown plus everything about the political and social situation of his time.
Pictures from The Bach Museum
At the museum, an organ chair and parts of an organ from Bach’s time was shown. You can hear the sound of instruments of his time on display in a glass case. Many etchings of how the city has looked like in the baroque time are to be seen. J.S.Bach has influenced music more than most other composers.
A Norwegian pianist Instagram friend Christian Groevlen writes about his fascination with the eternal music of Bach, so I link to his homepage, so I will let him speak for me.
A hundred years later Bach was remembered and honoured again by Felix Bartholdi Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Without his research and work to play Bach again, he might have disappeared.
To me Bach’s music has a calming effect like telling me that there is still order in the chaotic world. The feeling like finding the solution to a difficult arithmetical calculation.
Mendelssohn’s house in Leipzig is the only surviving of his homes. We visited that place last time and were so lucky to arrive on a Sunday where they have concerts. We had only just come and hoped we could use our credit card, but you couldn’t, and you need cash. We only had little money, but again we met the friendliness of the former East Germans. The woman working there just took the money we had and helped us to find a chair in the concert room. Imagine sitting where Mendelssohn himself had played.
The Leipzig Music Trail
At the Bach museum, I found a brochure called “Leipzig Music Trail”. Nearly two days were spent following the metal arrows in the ground. All led to historical music places within a five km radius. One ended nowhere maybe hidden under some construction site in an old arch. Otherwise, it was great fun to go from the birthplace of Clara Schumann to the first European coffee-house where Bach had played secular music and further on to the various places with music or information.
One of the highlights of the Music Trail is The Gewandhaus Concert Hall. The history goes back to 1479. Mozart has performed here, and Mendelssohn was the director from 1835 to his death.
Last time in Leipzig we went to a museum called “The Round Corner “Die Runde Ecke”, a horrible reminder of the secret police Stasi’s way of treating people. In a glass case, an essay from a fourteen-year-old boy was shown. He had written that he would like to have an American car or similar things. The teacher had reported him to Stasi, the secret police and his mother who was a secretary for the Gewandhaus conductor Kurt Masur was going to lose her job because of that essay. Kurt Masur stood up for her, and she kept her career. I think it was about 1980.
In Leipzig, the peaceful revolution coming from people in The Nikolai Church grew so strong that it played a significant role for the end of the Communist dictatorship in 1989 when the iron curtain and Berlin wall was opened. The people behind the museum has a goal to inform about the dangers of dictatorships. The link to The Round Corner has an explanation in English.
The Nikolai Church where also Bach played and where the peaceful revolution took place from 1980-89
In Leipzig people looked at me as somebody strange. It was freezing and my clothes didn’t match. I had to walk many hours every day, so my running shoes had to do. Unfortunately, the shoelaces were in neon yellow colour, and that explains why many people looked down at my shoes and then up to see the person with those shoes. I learnt not to care so sometimes I just looked back.